Serena pull out with right injury, but still happy

Serena IW 15 TR MALT1268

INDIAN WELLS, March 21 – Some days, you do not know who will win and why. At 8:15 pm on Friday night, Serena Williams withdrew of her semifinals against Simona Halep. Williams was psyched to win the tournament again. She hadn’t played since 2001 at Indian Wells and she may not have returned ever again, but she did, heroically.

The world No. 1 played fairly well in her first four matches, besting the tricky Monica Niculescu to open, which was very difficult given that Williams hadn’t been in the court in 14 years and she wasn’t sure that the fans would actually like her and cheer for her. They did and after the first night, she could let it all hang out. She crushed Diyas, knocked out Sloane Stephens in three sets and out though the rising Bacsinszky. She was doing whatever she had to do and she was ready to play against No. 3 Simons Halep.

But her right knee hurt badly. On Friday, she tried to walk fast but she couldn’t do it. She wanted to win the title, but if she tried to play, then she ripped her knee and could be out of moments.

“I have a tremendous amount of inflammation in my knee, and it’s going to go away,” she said. “Unfortunately I just need a couple of days.”

She is 33 years old and won’t last forever. If the 19-year-old Grand Slam wants to win more, maybe tying Steffi Graf at 22 majors, but she has to stay healthy. She has to be super careful.

“ It wasn’t until after I got an injection in my knee,” Williams said. “I waited about half an hour and I was ‑‑ because it takes about a half hour to set in. I just wasn’t getting any better. I have been injured before in the past. I have played in Australia [she won the title] where I was super injured, and in hindsight I thought I should have never played. So then I have set different rules for myself. Like if I have this or if I don’t feel this, then I’m not going to play. They say hindsight is 20/20. I didn’t want to be in hindsight in this moment either. I just decided that after the injection, I didn’t feel better after that, and after I have done everything absolutely everything I could, I was like, Yeah, maybe it’s not in my best interest for my future to play.”

Williams may play in Miami next week, or the defending champion may pull out if her knee still aches (she beat Li Na in the final). She may play the Fed Cup against Italy mid April, and is planning to play Madrid (in 2014 she pulled out before the quarters against Petra Kvitova) and Rome (she crushed Sara Errani to win the title). But of course, she will be staring down at Roland Garros, given that last year in Paris, Garbine Muguruza shocked her 6-2, 6-2. If she is going to be able to run around on the clay, Williams cannot be stiff.

“The press puts more pressure on the majors for me than I do,” Williams said. “I love the majors, obviously. I really go out and I play the best that I can. But I play the best that I can every tournament that I play. I wouldn’t necessarily be able to win the majors if I didn’t do well at Indian Wells or at all these other tournaments. It’s these tournaments that you’re able to build your confidence so that you can win those matches in the majors. You can’t just show up at Wimbledon and just win it and not play anything else before…I have to be able to play other tournaments and build confidence.”

While Williams was unable to win the title, at least she won when she was on the court, the fans cheered and that was good enough. Serena will come back to Indian Wells on 2016, which is a good thing and she looks happy. She was sad trying to wait the title, but the L.A. woman was happy that the fans bowed-down and smiled at her.

“I was really, really disappointed. I was really down. I was really sad,” Williams said. But then I thought, You know what, Serena? This is just an opportunity to be able to come back next year and be able to do better next year. As you know me, I always want to do better and always want to be the best. So after looking at it kind of in that way, I thought this can hopefully propel me to just focus on getting better.”

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